Category Archives: Family Stories

Preserving our family history, one story at a time.

Our Friend Turkey

We have often lived in the mountains, and whenever we do, we seem to attract wildlife that become our friends.  In this case, we had hear some gobbling near our cabin/home and went to investigate.  

We discovered a wild turkey wandering in the neighborhood.  We put out some nuts and seeds and he eventually showed up in our yard to eat his fill.  We kept that bowl stocked and he became a daily visitor and began roosting in our yard.  We’d speak to him in soothing tones and eventually he’d let us come right up to him – not close enough to pet, but just short of that.  

He stayed with us that whole summer, then in the late Fall, he disappeared and we thought that was the last we’d see of him.  But the next Spring, he showed up again, this time with two hens in tow!  

We put out food and they ate, and he strutted around and flared his feathers, showing off his two mates.  He was so proud.  I actually thing he imprinted on us like parents, or the equivalent, and came back to show us he had made good.  

He only stayed for one day, and he and his hens were all gone in the morning, never to return.  Later, we learned there was a wild animal reserve in a canyon about seven miles down the mountain from us.  Apparently, he had walked all the way up to where we were the first time, then walked back, found his mates, then walked all the way back just to show his family to us.  

I imagine he then returned to the reserve.  No other turkeys ever showed up in our area all the years we lived there,  And, of course, turkeys only live 3 or 4 years in the wild.  So, he is long gone, and yet the memory of him and the essence of his spirit will remain with us as long as we are here.

My Mother’s Treasure Box

On this trip down memory lane we find my mother’s treasure box from when she was a girl. Inside are a variety of trinkets, some of which I know a little about and others whose stories are lost. Still, this was clearly very special to her and illuminates, just a little bit, the kind of person she was.

Reading a 1979 Update on the making of The Strangeness movie

Back in 1979 I directed my first feature length movie, The Strangeness. We made the whole thing for $25,000 but we really got our moneys worth as we are all fresh out of USC School of Cinema. Going through my archives today, I found this “weekly” update on the production describing where things stood while we were writing the script and trying arrange financing and attract people to work on it for free – quite a juggling act. Anyway, here’s my reading from today of the original text from 1979…

Our Beloved Clairie Cat

Here’s a shot our friend, Alan, took in 2001 of our most amazing friend, Clairisse, as she was jumping up to catch a crumpled paper ball (see upper right-hand corner. I miss her so much. She was a most amazing soul…

Night Shift at the Photofinishing Lab

Right after college I had a job at a photofinishing lab on the night shift. My best friend there was a fellow about my age named Pat Louden – he was a history major which was why he worked the night shift at a photo lab. I was a cinema major, which was why I did.

We used to have philosophic conversations in the lunch room at about 2 AM. I once told him I felt like walking up one wall of the room, across the ceiling and down the other side. He looking up and very seriously proclaimed “Don’t trip over the pipe.”

Another time we were speaking of the visions that come in the night and he said, with gravity, “Dreams? I have dreams… (dramatic pause) Sometimes I wake up laughing.

Once, when he was laughing, he accidentally splattered me with saliva, and when I told him he responded, “I should have expectorated that…”When he would walk in I once said, “Ah – the pitter feet of little Pat.

Yes, those are just some of the memories of my nine to five job – nine at night until five in the morning

.Moving on. We’re walking, and we’re walking….From “A Tour of My Mind – The Oily Years”

The Green of Ages

I grew up in the house I’m living in right now. In those days, back in the 1950s, the exterior walls were a crisp, clean white, and the trim was a deep forest green (or perhaps a tiny bit more yellow than that).

Later, it was all covered up with pink aluminum siding in the 1960s. Even later than that, my son, Keith, took off all the siding single-handedly (HUGE job), and then I paid for some painters to repaint the white walls which were still beneath.

Now, that light blue paint is peeling, so Teresa is chipping it off by hand with a putty knife, my grandfather’s old wire brush, and lastly blasting it with the pressure nozzle on the hose because the original paint has become all chalky – it was probably the original paint from when the house was built in 1941!

As you can see, there’s some history in this endeavor. While removing the blue paint, Teresa discovered that a few small patches of the original green trim were still on the metal vent at the peak of the old garage.

I hadn’t see that color since it was all covered up with the siding. All the pictures I have from that era are in black and white, but even though I left this house when I was seven, the green so impressed me at that age that I’ve always yearned to see it again and match it to my memory.

So, today, I finally made my way up the ladder and took a few pictures of those few remaining patches. Most are scraped away, but one small patch looks like an accidental brush stroke that still has the color almost as vibrant as I recall it.

I offer it to you here – colorizing my memory once again to the point I can vividly recall the green wooden screen door on the back of the house – removed so many years ago. And now, as I write this from my recliner couch in the patio that is attached to the back of the house so that this whole part of the backyard is now enclosed, I can embrace that memory once more of the splendid green door on the bright, new white house with the green trim.

The Artistic Paperweight Mélange

This is sort of a cross between a paperweight and an art object I made when I was ten or eleven. It’s very special to me because it has some of my favorite things from that era and other things contributed by long passed family members whom I dearly loved.

How it came to be…

My mom was my Den Mother in Cub Scouts and she always had projects for us all to do, often involving plaster, such as casting molds of the wolf, bear, and lion heads for each rank. So, she always had plaster around.

Now I don’t recall if this was a scout project of hers or just me using some of the copious plaster powder we always had around. Seems like maybe it was supposed to be a paperweight as that meetings project, but I really don’t remember.

No matter, the important thing is that I was getting a little old for marbles, and embedded my favorite boulder marble right in the center. It is completely transparent, like a little crystal ball. One of my friends once told me it was a peery or a purey or some such when we were playing marbles. Didn’t quite hear what he said and was too embarrassed in those days to ask. Not now, mind you. But also, I just looked it up. turns out the “proper” name for such a marble is a “clearie.” Now, more than half a century later, I finally know! My other favorite marbles are in there too, with the swirls.

Around the outside edge are fake pearls from one of my mom’s old necklaces that we used for projects. Also on the edge are plastic beads that snapped together to make necklaces.

Also carefully mushed into the plaster is a mother-of-pearl button I may have gotten from my aunt or grandmother, both of whom sewed.

There are some raised letters made of brass at about 2 O’clock in the picture. I think they belonged to my grandfather, though I’m not sure. I know they were a part of some kind of monogram kit. they were really cool because they were curved with little bars on the top and bottom to fit in a monogram frame – at least as I remember it.

There’s a piece of clear deep red broken glass – you know how kids find things on the street as they explore the neighborhood – really interesting things that when I see them again today I say to myself, “Wow – that’s really neat,” just like I did when I originally found it so many years ago.

Finishing it off is a circular brass holder for something or other, and the top in the center is sprinkled by multi-colored sand-like gravel for a little verve.

I’ve wanted to share this one for a couple weeks, but wanted to put it away after I documented it and wasn’t sure what to do with it. On the one had, I’d love to have it around where I could see it all the time. I had forgotten about it until I opened up this box, but it holds so many memories I’d really like it around.

But we live in Southern California – land of major earthquakes. Right now, aside from a few of the pearls that fell out, it is flawless – no chip, no scratches, and the bottom is smooth and perfect, just as it was when in made it in 1963/64. I really don’t want anything to damage it.

On the other hand, if I pack it carefully in a box, I’ll likely see it only a few more times before I shuffle off to Buffalo, and that is not acceptable either.

So, I’ve settled on putting it in the secret drawer hidden in the top of my dresser where I keep all my other treasures. The bottom of the drawer is flocked so it doesn’t slide, and I have a few soft things around it just in case.

And there you have it, my very special, near perfect, plaster project from my childhood, and that’s my memento for the day.